Sorting out statements and spending money

I’ve hardly slept for three days. The stress of the accusation, along with the horrible muggy weather, has left me unable to switch my mind off and relax. I’ve been sitting on top of my bed in my underwear, waiting for the sun to rise so I can go downstairs and make coffee, then falling asleep for a few hours in the morning. I’ve been trying so hard not to let everything get to me, but there’s always a little part of my brain whirring away, trying to make sense of it all.

I’ve wondered if whoever reported me reads my blog. After all, any number of people from a local forum could have the link now. In the past, I’ve been very outspoken when it comes to prejudice towards the disabled claiming benefits – many arguments have started because I’ve refused to let a judgemental idiot make innocent people feel small – and once, somebody posted that the DWP were watching what I wrote, and to be careful. Another member said that I was living off the state and taking the piss. It’s safe to say that the general tone of the forum was of bigotry and bitchiness (it’s the general tone of the town I live in, really) and so there’s a high chance that somebody from there is the one who reported me.

This is where I come unstuck. I don’t know these people from Adam; okay, I met S on the forum and I do have friends who I met on there, but mostly the members were just faceless strangers who had no connection to me other than geography. They only knew what I chose to tell them. They didn’t know me.

I know I can be forceful when I feel wronged. I’ve freaked out when somebody’s backed me into a corner and made some pretty unhinged posts in the past on there. But… I’m nobody to them. Why would they want to try and ruin my life just for kicks?

My mother and I went into the bank today to sort out the statements the fraud officer needs. I almost freaked out; my mother tried to explain to me what I had to say (I’m awful in these situations) and I couldn’t remember what she told me, and I was already panicking slightly over the weather’s ridiculous control over my naturally frizzy hair, so I almost lost it. I don’t know how she brought me back from it, but somehow I managed to explain – haltingly – that I’d been accused of benefit fraud and needed proof of my innocence. The assistant was amazing; he sorted out all my statements and sent off for the ones from my mother’s account, and also helped me send off for another bank card after my mother took mine for ‘safe keeping’.

Relief. Days of stress fell away, because I now know we’ve done all we can until the fraud officer receives the statements. Even my mother – who’s been freaking out constantly since last week – calmed down and we spent the rest of the afternoon spending too much money and, for once, not arguing. It’s her birthday, and I haven’t been able to get her a present so I offered to pay for something she wanted from town. She faffed and umm’d and ahh’d, and I didn’t end up getting her anything. I feel bad, because I never get her presents on time. Still she seemed pleased with the card I got her.

The relief of finally feeling everything may work out okay pushed me into a spending spree. I hadn’t planned on spending much money today but ended up spending nearly £100 on clothes, make-up and presents for S; he’s thirty in a couple of weeks and I think he deserve spoiling this year after helping me through so much.

Z is going to bleach and dye the orange bits in my hair tomorrow, using Directions in Cerise, and I’m going to henna her hair. I’m glad we’re spending time together again. Afterwards I’m meeting S at the pub and we’re going to get the train to Liverpool on Saturday to visit the Tate. He’s taking me for a meal afterwards.

Maybe things are going to be okay.

Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way

Diet cherry Coke and The Sims. A joint. My laptop screen. The only things keeping me company as I attempt to pull an all-nighter to reset my body clock. Stupid daylight saving, stupid upside-down sleep weekend.

The weather was beyond glorious over the weekend, and S and I spent most of it sat in his landlord’s garden, smoking, drinking red wine and talking about nothing. On Friday, I sat under the veranda of the pub and waited for him to finish work, nervous with anticipation and apprehension about telling him we’re not going to be able to rent the house. Sat and smoked, feeling a bit paranoid I was being watched; a silly delusion, but happens when I’m stressed.

Of course, I needn’t have worried. I need to stop letting myself panic so much; S has proved over and over he’s not about to run away screaming if I hint at any commitment. We had a drink and I told him I’d had a message from the woman, saying she was going  to sell instead of rent it out. S just shrugged and said, “oh well, we’ll have to find somewhere else then”. We spent an hour or so looking at flats and houses online, and – surprisingly – there were quite a few nice ones within our budget.

I had to let paranoia get a small look-in, so I asked S if he really still wanted to live with me.

“Of course, i want to wake up with you every day, I need to live with you”.

Where did I get that man from? And can I never have to give him back, please?

30 Days Of Truth: Day 8 – the story of O.

Someone who has made your life hell or treated you like shit.

This is probably going to be the most difficult question for me to answer, because I want to talk about O, my ex-fiancé. Somebody I shared some of my happiest times with, as well as my worst times. It’s probably going to be another long post, so I’ll apologise now.

I loved O. I want to make this clear from the start. It’s a love story, with a bitter ending, but a love story nonetheless.

We met when I was nineteen and he was eighteen, in October of 2004. I was a relationship at the time – a sort of rebound to an ex-boyfriend – but I fell for O as soon as we met in a quiet pub in the town centre for a blind date of sorts. We’d found each other on the internet. In a fit of desperation to escape the relationship I was in, I hinted that I might be after a relationship if the right guy came along, and we arranged to meet; I was probably at my most insecure point in my life, and it was a big deal for me.

The date almost didn’t happen. He said he would meet me in the pub around 5.30pm, after he’d finished work at the motorbike dealership down the road, but he didn’t turn up until 6.30, by which time I was just getting ready to leave. I wasn’t at all sure if the “date” was a good idea anyway, and when he didn’t show, I just accepted it as par for the course and got up to go. As I did, O walked through the door. I’ve been thinking a lot about my romantic and sexual relationships, and although I was incredibly paranoid and clingy throughout my time with O, I also believe it was the first real time I fell in love. I thought I’d been in love many times before, but with hindsight I can see the BPD coming into play, the need for validation and control played out through my relationships. Would it be twee to say that I fell in love with O as soon as I saw him? It would; but it wouldn’t be far from the truth.

It was serious from the start. We kissed that night at the railway station, and were inseperable. I was living with my mother, and finally doing my GCSE’s at the local technical college, so we only saw each other a few times a week, but we both spent a fortune on late-night phone calls. I told my boyfriend it was over as soon as O and I became a couple; he spent weeks sending me messages and emails about how I was jumping from one bed to another. I suppose he was right – I’d been quite shameful in my behaviour – but things simply hadn’t worked between us when we got back together. It was only ever a rebound/sex thing, and I thought he knew that.

O lived with his parents, sister and brother in a large house on the outskirts of the county. He collected motorbikes, liked classic rock, and ate cereal in bed, listening to Damien Rice. On the surface it doesn’t seem like we would have connected – especially since I was so prone to anxiety attacks over the slightest thing at the time – but we clicked almost instantly. He confessed to being a virgin, which I found a little odd, but not the strangest thing I’ve ever heard. He wasn’t the first virgin I’d been with.

Insecure, O used humour to allay his fears (something I only picked up a while later) and I found it such a relief to have a boyfriend who made me laugh, who shared jokes with me. I’d become jaded by the idea of dating and relationships, and O gave me new hope for love and affection.

Our relationship played out much like any other at first. Dates at the cinema and meals together. Unlike my past relationships, O insisted on paying for everything. After a couple of weeks, we slept together for the first time. I started staying overnight at the weekend, and we’d cuddle in bed and watch films, drinking tea and eating chocolate. His father gave me a front plate off an old VW camper; everything seemed perfect.

If it seems like I’m holding back, it’s because I am. I’m finding it so hard to write about O – some feelings are still very raw – and I’m worried I won’t do it justice. I really feel like I have to get across just how beautiful our relationship once was, so the fallout makes sense.

At the time, I wasn’t diagnosed with BPD, just chronic depression. I was still self-harming and purging, unwilling to give up the crutches I was leaning on so heavily. The scars and new cuts/burns were impossible to hide from someone I was having a sexual relationship with, so I was honest from the beginning; I admitted to O that I had a huge problem, and that my past was something I was finding it impossible to deal with. He surprised me with his reaction. He simply pulled my sleeve up and kissed my scars. We were sitting on the pier, in a little blue shelter by the skate park, and as he stroked my arm and told me it didn’t matter to him, I felt happiness for the first time in years. He stroked my short black hair and told me he loved me.

It was bliss, for a while. Even after the arguments and bickering began, we mostly existed in a little romantic bubble, drifting through life together attached at the hip. I dealt with college in my usual way; lots of absences due to bad days and poor health, but passed with flying colours. I had friends, I had a boyfriend who seemed to think the world of me, I’d been given my own computer for Christmas… things were going well. I started riding pillion on O’s Honda Hornet, discovering the rush of adrenaline only a motorbike can give. I stayed away from class-A drugs, even stopped smoking weed. In fact, I gave up smoking altogether, as O didn’t smoke and I didn’t want to have a disgusting habit drive him away. This is where the first mistakes were made; I tried to change to fit a fake ideal I’d created. I wanted to be the perfect girlfriend.

O took me to classic vehicle rallies in Llandudno and at Haydock Park. We slept in a tent and stamped around in the mud when it rained. I was struggling with a lot of issues – especially my body image – but when we lay together under sleeping bags, listening to the rain on the tent and watching the shadows move in the torchlight, I could forget everything but how wonderful it felt. O was an incredibly attentive boyfriend, always moving in for a hug or a kiss, always wanting me, always saying he loved me. At home, I’d cook him chili and curries, and he would make me cups of tea. I didn’t miss smoking or drinking heavily, I didn’t even miss the drugs. My days were filled with thoughts of O.

O proposed to me in a tent at Haydock Park. We’d been arguing about his ex-girlfriend – I wasn’t happy about him texting her so often and keeping it from me (paranoia was rife at this point) – and after rowing for ages, he finally said that he was asking for her advice on how to propose to me.

Do I believe him? No. Did I believe him at the time? I wanted to, dearly. I heard what I wanted to hear, and accepted. The next day, he bought me a cubic zirconia ring until he could afford a “proper one”.

His mother cried; mine seemed strangely happy. She liked O.

We chatted on MSN every night we couldn’t be together, sometimes talking until 3am on the phone. He taught me to ride his bike and how to replace oil filters. On Wednesday nights we would ride to a small bikers’ pub in the countryside, racing  against cars and practising wheelies. I often felt a bit lost at these meets – everyone seemed so knowledgeable about bikes – but O looked after me. I met a lot of his friends, and although I found it difficult to shake off my shyness and anxiety, I felt slightly more included. Like I had a place in the world. I did, however, find the biking community a difficult place to be; a lot of emphasis was put on women to look a certain way, at least that’s how I took it when I saw O’s bike magazines. I was overweight and growing my hair out – I looked nothing like those models draped over that Hayabusa – and I struggled with that all through our relationship. When we were in bed, I would stare over his shoulder at the perfectly-toned and airbrushed women blocking the views of the bike, feeling insecure and ugly. O’s excuse was that he had the pictures for the bikes, but how could you see the bike when some woman’s draped over it? It’s something it took me a long time to deal with – I don’t feel the same way anymore on the whole – and it put a huge dent in our relationship over time. I’d only just started dealing with a few issues from my past, and everything was very raw and out of context.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. As time went on, my paranoia grew out of control, and I was convinced my suspicions and fears were perfectly rational, even though most were ridiculous. I started checking his emails when he was out of the room; behaviour I would never consider now. I’m not proud, but back then it all seemed to make sense. One night, I was feeling particularly panicky, and felt I needed some sort of validation to how I was feeling. I waited until he left the room, and opened his email account. It didn’t take long to find a half-naked photo he’d been sent by a girl he knew.

Now my suspicions had proven slightly correct, I went crazy. Smashed his laptop screen and shouted, not caring about his parents hearing. I stormed out, and pretended to call a taxi. I knew he’d call me back in.

We stayed up all night talking. I was shaking with rage and fear. I can see now how irrational my reaction was. Very early in the morning, we went for a long walk through frosty fields, watching our breath in the cold air and not talking much. O apologised over and over, and I was scared of losing him. I said I forgave him, which was a lie; I was simmering. I just didn’t want to be without him.

My paranoia grew, and still I stayed oblivious. Everything was so logical to me that I couldn’t see how downright unattractive I was being: sending text after text if O didn’t answer his phone, calling at 4am, storming off down the road if we had the smallest argument. I was quiet and unresponsive with his friends. My shyness was peaking, and I didn’t want to open my mouth and say something stupid. O was still hiding his phone whenever he was texting somebody, which I felt was only fair. I’d betrayed his trust, and he’d betrayed mine. We were even now.

Despite this, our relationship was mostly harmonious when we were together. We would often lie together on his bed, just staring at each other. We developed an intense sexual relationship, taking any chance to be alone together. To the public, we were the sweet golden couple. Indoors, we were sexually violent and coarse, with a drawer full of sex toys, poppers and restraints. It became a game of sorts to see how many public places we could have sex in without being caught. For the first time in my life, I was comfortable about my sexuality, and not frightened of the emotions involved. I had control over an aspect of my body, at last. I’ve always been aware that my sexuality isn’t quite the norm, and before O I believed I was in some way defective. I’m bisexual, or, to be more accurate, pansexual. At least, that’s the best description I can find to fit my particular way of thinking. O accepted this without the usual smutty jokes, although I later discovered it fuelled his own private paranoia; he thought I would run away with a woman. O later admitted to finding the idea of sex with a man appealing, and we played out scenarios, allowing our fantasties to slip comfortably into our sexual relationship. We tied each other up and cut each other with razor blades. We wanted to scar each other; to leave a mark.

I know none of this sounds particularly romantic, but in a way our openess and lack of shyness in the bedroom brought us closer together. We had a dirty secret, and nobody could take that away from us. In bed, we were invincible.

The sexual aspect was contradicted beautifully by the romantic times we shared – admittedly, less often now we were arguing frequently – and although things weren’t perfect, I was happy in my own way. Anxious and prone to hysteria, but happy.

Despite all O’s attention and compliments, I still couldn’t get to grips with my body image, not helped by weekend takeaways and his father’s obsession with fatty, greasy food. So many times, I found myself being too shy to refuse yet another scotch egg (I wasn’t a vegetarian back then) and slowly chewing on it until I could convince myself the calories were somehow going to disappear if I just didn’t think of what I was eating.

O’s father featured a lot in our arguments.

He’d been a truck driver before an accident left him with a metal plate in his head and an uncontrollable temper. Sometimes he was lovely – laughing and joking – and other times he was unpredictable and downright frightening. I used to find loud men threatening, and O’s father shouted a lot. I was used to a quiet family life, with minimal swearing from my parents, so O’s household was a new experience for me. It was loud and frantic, with something always happening and the television always blaring out the X-Factor or Coronation Street. Unlike my family, they were very close-knit and it seemed there were a thousand relatives all living in the same town, all as loud, all as opinionated. It soon became clear that O’s father ran the show, and anything done without his permission would be greeted with shouting. He collected motorbikes like O, and would often follow us into the garage, pointing out imagined flaws in O’s handywork and swearing bitterly if O disagreed with his opinion. He used the word “stupid” a lot.

When we were alone, I would tell O how his father was making me uncomfortable. It wasn’t just the noise, it was the jokes about rape, the comments about overweight women on television, the racist outbursts from nowhere. I got sick of hearing the N word thrown about. O said I was being too sensitive and needed to just humour him, but I couldn’t. It made me feel weak and vulnerable.

Our relationship carried on, full of tremendous highs and shattering lows. When we argued, I would threaten to leave, knowing O would come running after me. I became incredibly manipulative, although I never realised it at the time. My panicked phone calls became more frequent, and O stopped answering the phone as much, claiming he was busy or had no signal. In reality, he’d been turning his phone off to avoid the constant nagging. If O had told me how annoying I was being, perhaps I would have stopped or at least calmed down, but he never mentioned it, and I didn’t realise. It’s easy to convince yourself that all those crazy thoughts are rational.

When I look back now, I’m amazed how much I’ve changed. I suppose a lot of that is down to carefully-controlled medication, but perhaps some of the progress I’ve made is my own doing. I’d like to think so.

Eventually, even the sexual side of our relationship faltered. I had been experiencing a deep, nagging pain whenever we had sex, and was bleeding on a regular basis. I saw my doctor, who referred me to a gynaecologist. Swabs were taken and a camera was inserted. The results came back as pelvic inflammatory disease, which had caused scar tissue to build up over time. I had a diathermy to remove the tissue, and a laparoscopy to make sure everything was as it should be. Afterwards, I bled for a long time. For weeks on end, I bled heavily, ruining clothes and bedsheets. I became self-conscious and distrustful of my reproductive system, not believing it would ever feel normal again. I was in a lot of pain, and sex was the last thing on my mind. O and I didn’t sleep together for six weeks, perhaps longer. For us, that was a lifetime, and when we did eventually start trying again, I was cold and unresponsive. I’d suddenly become uncomfortable with the idea of sex, of being touched, and I just wanted to sleep. I’d started a hairdressing course at the local college and was finding it difficult – the work was easy, but the pressure on times and perfection was hard to deal with – and that added to my exhaustion. I would meet him after college, and we’d go back to his house, where I’d sleep until 11pm, then go home. This cycle carried on for a long time, and I grew to hate it but couldn’t manage without deep, dreamless sleep. I’d get back home and sleep for another 10 hours.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I’d been struggling to hold my scissors in college, and often took days off because I was so tired. Things got worse after the diagnosis; I had a huge panic attack in the college toilets after my taxi was late, and after that I starting having them daily. Each time, I would phone O and chatter at him until I felt safe again. He was missing work for me and spending a fortune on calling credit, but it was the only way I could calm down. Without those calls, I became convinced I would die; I would choke to death on my own fear.I started seeing a counsellor – a blonde woman with leopard print heels who I took to instantly – causing me to withdraw even further as I thrashed out my worries in a small room. I became scared of even using tampons; sexually, I had failed.

At the opposite end of the scale, a year later I had an implant in the muscle of my belly to shut down my hormones, to check for a tumour or Cushing’s disease. Things were going wrong with my body which seemed to have no explaination. The tests came back clear, but a month with very little apart from testosterone surging around my body turned me into a maniac. I became prone to violence and screaming fits, from nowhere. I wanted to damage everything and hurt everybody. Most of all, I rediscovered my sex drive. However, I didn’t direct this sexuality at O, but at outside fantasies and secret wants. I became obsessed with experiencing sex with somebody else, distrupting my entire day with sick imaginings and dangerous scenarios. I didn’t cheat on O – I don’t think I wanted the physical aspect so much, just the emotional gratification – but it left me very confused. Even when the implant broke down and stopped releasing hormones, I found it difficult to switch the darker side of my sexuality off. I no longer wanted romantic, cuddly sex. I wanted to be hurt and sworn at. I wanted to be used and scarred. I’ve always been very open when it comes to sex and those thoughts were in no way alien to me, but the frequency was an uncomfortable shift. I seemed incapable of asking for affection, or allowing any sort of romance. Deep down I wanted to be loved and adored, but on the surface being a sex object seemed much, much easier to deal with.

I left college, unable to cope with the physical pain of fibro and the emotional upset of being constantly surrounded by women with perfect hair and lipgloss. I cut my hair short again and dyed it dark red, but it never suited me. Nothing suited me. I had no idea of my self-image. Inside, I was a girly girl and I was afraid of being the butch, fat woman on the back of a motorbike. I tried to diet, but couldn’t get a grip on my eating habits. For a long time I did nothing except see O, write poems and waste time on the internet. Eventually, O left his job and went on the dole, and we wasted our time together in a haze of late-night food binges, bad horror films, cans of Stella, fights and violent, sexual acts of forgiveness We got tattoos, using the same needle, saying it was so we could never be apart.

I tried to stop cutting, for his sake. I managed a year without purging or harming myself. I felt frustrated that he wasn’t trying to calm down his vices though. Although O had very little money now he had no job, he bought and sold motorbikes by the dozen. I would get used to riding pillion on one model, then he’d sell that and buy a GSXR. Nothing had been said about the wedding we were supposed to have. I’d been hoping we would save some money and have a small wedding in 2010, but although O agreed and talked long into the night about what it would be like when we were married, he never made any moves to plan anything. In fact, it seemed to fall by the wayside. I ordered a few venue brochures and looked at some 50’s style dresses online, but for all intents and purposes, the marriage didn’t look like it was ever going to happen. We agreed on a date – the 22nd of October, 2010 – but never took it any further.

Almost four years into the relationship, things started truly falling apart.

For years, we’d shuffled along nicely together, fighting but always making up. Our relationship was passionate and we were both stubborn. None of the fights seemed to matter when we were listening to music together or lying in a field with our heads poking out of a tent, watching a meteor shower.

A year earlier, I’d had a miscarriage. O was training in Hull at the time, so I was alone when I woke up covered in blood. I hadn’t even known I was pregnant, and had been taking antibiotics for a kidney infection. I’ve written here about my fears of never being a mother, and around the time I miscarried, those fears were particularly strong. I’d been running a website for women with PCOS for a while, and I became terrified by the stories of IVF and taking temperature in the morning. I was starting to feel motherly for the first time in my life, and I was scared I would never have that chance. When I miscarried, something broke inside me. I lost hope. When O came home, we lay on his bed, naked, crying together. He swore nothing would change, that he still loved me, and that one day we would have children together.

I never quite recovered from the miscarriage, and I don’t think O did either. Things weren’t the same after that, and when we reached almost four years together things went from bad to worse. O never answered his phone and started making excuses not to see me. I alternated between binging and starving, unwilling to accept I had lost control. I harmed myself and started taking over the counter pills to calm me down. I’d started smoking again, and I spent the nights chain-smoking with a bottle of Tia Maria while O lay on the bed, fuming at something I’d said. I cried at the slightest provocation. We started smoking weed together, getting high on small bags of cheap dope.

In 2007, I became very ill. I was experiencing extreme pain throughout my upper body and vomiting black stuff everywhere. I was diagnosed with gallstones, and sent away. It got worse, until I was in A&E every couple of weeks. Eventually, I was admitted with an infected gallbladder, pancreatitis and a failing liver. I was jaundiced and hadn’t eaten for weeks. That’s another story, though.

O visited me almost every day, driving my mother to and from the hospital. He’d sit with me and gently put his arms around me, saying it didn’t matter about my unwashed hair and yellow skin; that he loved me regardless. When I was finally operated on (they removed my gallbladder, after settling down the infections with IV antibiotics), O took me home afterwards, helped me into my Winnie The Pooh pyjamas and tucked me into bed. Gave me my painkillers and stayed with me until I fell asleep.

During my time in hospital, I’d started chatting online with a guy called C. He was 45, but we got on well due to our mutual love of Nine Inch Nails and obscure bands. O became very jealous of C, especially when I lost six stones in the hospital (I was in for a while, on a totally liquid diet) and my hair started growing out again. After the operation, O didn’t seem able to connect physically with the ‘new me’, or the tight-fitting clothes I’d started wearing. I’d gone from a size 18 to a size 8, and was showing off my body for the first time in years.

During our relationship, I had very few friends. Those I did have fell by the wayside as I got more unwell, and eventually it was pretty just O and I. So when I started mentioning conversations I’d had with C, he’d become grumpy and caustic. In many ways, O was even more prone to jealousy than I was. I’d undergone a bit of a personality change while in hospital, and I refused to drop the friendship.

Just before the operation, I went to see O at a local vehicle rally. I hadn’t wanted to stay the night before for a reason I can’t remember, so I got dressed up in a white shirt and tight grey trousers and went to say hello. He was there with his friends, laughing and chatting, and when he saw me he grabbed me in a big bear hug and spun me ’round, getting mud and oil all over my shirt. A girl I’d never seen before walked up to him and said “here’s your hoody back”, then looked at me. O said “this is T, my girlfriend”. The girl looked a bit confused, then stuck her hand out to shake mine.

We went for a walk around the show, stopping under a secluded tree to get out of the rain. O said that the night had been terrible, and half the group had fallen out and gone home. As we were talking, we somehow got onto the subject of sex, and O said “you know, I wouldn’t mind if you slept with other people”.

I looked at him, wondering what he meant.

“Right.”

“I mean it. You can sleep with other people”.

We abandoned the show and went back to his house. Talked for hours in his bedroom about what he’d said. O told me that he’d find it sexy, and that he didn’t ever want to hold me back. In hindsight, I should have pushed the issue farther, but I was confused. I felt that I was losing O, and anything I could do to hold onto him… well, it wasn’t something I’d rule out. If it meant he stayed and loved me, perhaps sleeping with someone else would be the right thing to do.

I thought of my options. None of my exes were on the list; I’d fallen out with them all, and most would probably shove me away with a bargepole. Male friends? I had a few, but none I’d want to sleep with. A stranger? No. One of O’s friends? Too close to home, and too weird. Eventually, I settled on C. I knew he fancied me, he’d said as much. He was much older than me and not attractive, but I knew he’d drop his pants if I asked. I asked O if he was sure he wanted me to do this, and he said yes. So I propositioned C.

It was too easy. A week after the operation, C invited me ’round for “ice cream and chocolate”. I got nervous though, and cancelled. Called O and told him to meet me in the park. I explained how I couldn’t go through with sleeping with someone else, that O was who I loved and what I needed. He smiled and hugged me, and we sat on the warm grass under a tree, taking photographs of butterflies for the rest of the afternoon.

O was still being furtive – more so than ever – and kept mentioning the name of the girl at the motorshow. I teased him at first, saying he was suffering from mentionitis, but after a while I became suspicious. She was all he talked about, and I’d start catching him out in little lies about where he’d been. If his mobile rang, he’d go out of the room and talk for ages. Despite turning C down, we’d stayed in touch and I asked him if I was being unreasonable in suspecting O and this girl. C said that I wasn’t, and that O didn’t deserve me.We started meeting up, just to talk. He took me to the beach and grabbed my hand when I was jumping off a rock. He brought me Dr Pepper and Galaxy chocolate. I confess, I needed the attention, but never took it any further than friendship.

O and I continued to fight, and after weeks of screaming and crying he told me that he was breaking up with me for a week, to get his head together. He said he couldn’t cope with me anymore, and just needed a week to think. I was gutted; we’d been together for almost four years. After a lot of begging and promises to change, I finally agreed with him that I’d not contact him for a week. At the end of those seven days, we would meet up and talk about our relationship.

I spent the first few days in an angry haze, taking my MP3 player and Smiths collection for long walks through the park and around the golf course, chain-smoking and often stopping in the street to just stare at the pavement.

Halfway through the week, I kissed C. I’ll never know why, I just seemed to crave some sort of male affection. It was a horrible, stale kiss. Nothing like O.

When the week was over, I admitted to O that it had happened. He went crazy, even though he’d been the one to insist on the break. He’d said anything which happened during our time apart was nothing to do with the relationship. His reaction made me angry, especially when he retorted with “yeah, well I’m sleeping with Ally (the girl from the motorshow)”.Even as my stomach sank, I heard myself say that we were once again even. O promised it was a one-off, drunken thing, and I decided, stupidly, to forgive him. I’d hardly been innocent myself.

After that, everything changed. We were flogging a dead horse, trying to keep our relationship afloat when there was no trust. O disappeared sometimes, missing work at his new job and taking his bike out. He never answered the phone. Sometimes when we were together, we’d cry over what we’d become. Other times we would turn our backs on each other. He shaved off his floppy brown hair and went to rallies without me. I spent more time with C, going on long walks and talking about everything which was happening.

I knew I was going to sleep with C. The idea didn’t appeal to me, but I craved some sort of affection. I wanted to have my own weapon to wield against O sleeping with Ally. The thought of them together was killing me.

I wore a flowery strappy top and a pair of baggy jeans, wore perfume and applied red lipstick. I felt like the biggest traitor in the world. He took me back to his house and we slept together in his small, dark bedroom. I hated it, but couldn’t turn back. I’d gone too far, and simply didn’t know what I wanted or needed anymore. I faked enjoyment and blocked my ears to his grunts. It felt cheap and tawdry, like a bad porn film. He fell asleep afterwards and I lay awake, wondering what he hell I was doing in this house, with this man snoring and mumbling next to me. I inched over to the edge of the bed and tried to sleep. I didn’t know myself anymore.

O found out. He locked himself in his bathroom with my phone and read my texts, which I’d forgotten to delete. Sometimes I wonder if I left them there on purpose.

We struggled on together, unwilling to let go but unable to deal with who we were. We broke up, then got back together the next day. Tearful phone calls and late-night confessions were our lives together. O bought a car, a 106, and we would drive to the sea wall and sit together in silence, listening to soft music and watching the lighthouses across the ocean. Sometimes he would kiss me, with the saddest expression on his face.

Eventually, we broke up, on Valentine’s day. I’d bought him forget-me-nots. He displayed a card from Ally in his bedroom, with a photograph of them dancing together. We still slept together sometimes, occasionally kissing when nobody was looking. I stayed the night a couple of times, but it was clear I was no longer O’s girlfriend. That role had been taken by Ally, with her long curly hair and skinny hips and bags of cocaine.

A few months later, Ally fell pregnant. They now have two children together. I still have my engagement ring, somewhere.

I wrote about O for this question because we both fit into it. I made his life hell, and he treated me like shit. It’s hard to get across what happened between us on a blog post, without rambling on for hours. He hurt me, and I hurt him. He filled my head with empty promises. Even after we’d split, he would tell me he loved me and wanted to be with me. He slept with me and promised me the world, without me asking. He told me how we’d find a way to be together, eventually. None of that was real. He lied.

Day 01  Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02  Something you love about yourself.
Day 03  Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04  Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05  Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06  Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07  Someone who has made your life worth living for.

The diary

The weather has taken a turn for the downright horrible; heavy rain, hail, wind and sleet. When I got home from S’s last night, my mother informed me that she’s still getting headaches and feeling sick when she puts the gas fire on. So now we don’t have any heating in the living room until we can get someone in to sort it, which is more money we don’t need to be spending but heck, it could explain a lot of what’s been going on with my health too, if it is throwing out carbon monoxide.

We also talked about her decision to read up about MS online. She said she wasn’t going to, but found a link and had to see. She looked at me and said, “you have every symptom, don’t you?”. She reminded me of all the times when she thought I was drunk and we got into fights. I knew I hadn’t been drinking, but she always said I was spaced out, vacant and slurring slightly. I have no recollection of this. I admitted how, at a house party last year, I went to stand up and my right leg refused to work; I collapsed and couldn’t walk at all for about half an hour. I put it down to exhaustion, or just sitting funny… but heck, it now seems I’ve been ‘sitting funny’ for a long time, given all the times I get pins and needles or my foot goes entirely numb. I attritibuted it all to fibromyalgia… but so much has never fit with that diagnosis.

She says she’ll go to the appointment with me. I’m glad. Normally I hate having anybody in the room with me at appointments, least alone my mother, but this isn’t something I think I can handle alone, for once.

I met S at the pub on Friday evening. He gave me a kiss and a hug and bought me a drink. Lent me his filters because I’d run out. Told me I looked “pretty” and put his arm around me. We got quite tipsy; him on Kronenburg, me on a mixture of lager and Tia Maria and coke, and talked about the usual ridiculous things; rubbish band names (“Europe” won), crap Christmas presents, songs you get stuck in your head. He drunkenly went off to Tesco to buy some food and wine for the weekend and I got a taxi to my dealers. It’s weird to think I now have a dealer; it sounds so Hollywood. Stayed there for a while and smoked, chatted to his older daughter about Facebook and music, had a cup of tea and choked embarrasingly on one of his joints; he’s a heavy, heavy smoker, far heavier than I am, and even I can’t cope with what he rolls. He mentioned that O had been ’round a couple of times to buy weed, and I just grunted; I’d sort of hoped he’d give it up when he had the kids, he’s never really reacted to it well. It makes him angry or over-emotional.

S and I spent most of Friday night in bed. For once sex didn’t hurt, and I was able to relax again. I still haven’t told S… it’s weird, because we always talk about sex quite frankly and openly. I just feel strangely less feminine and attractive when sex hurts.We had a takeaway, drank wine, and talked. I’d never really experienced pillow-talk before I met S. I was pleasantly stoned and giggly through the night, S was at his soft and cuddly level of drunk; it couldn’t have been more perfect. Before we went to sleep, we lay together, listening to the rain. He put his arm around my chest and kissed my back. Said he loved me.

Saturday was much of the same. In the afternoon, we went to pick a hard drive and some bits and pieces up from the lockup he’s keeping all his furniture in. He found his mother’s diary, which she’d written when she knew she had terminal cancer, a ridiculous photo of him as a child (“you grew into your looks, didn’t you dear?”) and I dug out some PS3 games and a few DVDs. Afterwards, we went to the pub with his friends (his best friends, I suppose) and sat around for hours, talking shit and getting drunk. I smoked a joint in the smoking area; I was having a good night. S’s friends talk to me like an equal… I’m not sure I’ve ever had a relationship where that’s truly happened.

That night, I asked S if I could read his mother’s diary. I wasn’t being nosy; I really wish I could have met her, and wanted to see things from her point of view. Anyone who could produce someone like S… I love her for that. Her handwriting is sloped like mine. She alternates between blue biro and black ink. She loved her children. Every morning, she would read the bible (she became religious when diagnosed) and loved socialising with friends. She forms her “f’s” the exact same way I do.

Her diary made me think about my own writing. I’ve thrown out so many diaries, ripped up so many pages and even burned one or two… and now I wish I’d kept them somewhere safe. Perhaps if I had, I could rationalise things which have happened.

We might kiss when we are alone, when nobody’s watching

Today, life is good. I won’t write a long entry because the keyboard on my laptop is sticking; my own fault for jamming the keys with tobacco. For the same reason, I haven’t replied to comments, but I’ve read them all and perhaps tomorrow I’ll see if I can unclog the keys.

S took me for a meal at my favourite pub tonight. We got tipsy on red wine (my lips are still stained) and I got fat on tiramisu cheesecake. I’ve been smiling ever since. We talked about moving in together and about our future. Our future.

Here be triggers

Actually, I know I have to write. I can’t put it off just because I don’t want to. Even if nobody ever reads this, I need to be able to pinpoint the times I struggle, and see if I can find a reason for it. I think the most likely reason is isolation; I’ve been indoors since yesterday, and I’m already experiencing full-on cabin fever. I don’t cope well with being indoors, and going into the garden doesn’t help (as my mother often suggests) – I need to be on the streets, I need to be able to see people around me and know I’m not the only person alive. I’ve also been told today that fibromyalgia is all in my head, and if I thought positively I wouldn’t be in pain. I think that’s why I want to cry.

I’m putting off texting S. He said to contact him if I ever felt panicky or alone, but I don’t want to start relying on him answering his phone. That’s one of the reasons why O and I failed. I know S is different, but I can’t allow myself to put pressure on him, I refuse to be a burden. It’s times like this I want to fall back on codeine, or at least dope, but I have neither. All I have is a few antihistamines, and they’re not particularly effective at calming me down anymore. Not much is, I have such a high tolerance to everything now. So, I naturally turn to harming myself… luckily, I don’t really have easy-access razors anymore, but I know how easy it would be to light a cigarette and hold it on my arm like I used to. I haven’t done that for so long (the last time I burned, it was with a piece of hot metal), but I can’t deny that the urge is massive right now. If I do though, I’ll have to explain it to S, and would that really be worth it for a few seconds of relief? No. So I have to hold back.

On a lighter note, S has been wonderful as usual. I told him that I was feeling under the weather due to fibromyalgia, and he took amazing care of me this weekend. He didn’t even complain when I had to leave early when we met on Wednesday for a meal. When I’m bad, he’s so, so gentle with me. I’ve never known a man like him.

The meal was lovely. We met at my favourite pub, got a bottle of wine and talked for a few hours about everything and nothing. I don’t always see him during the week; I can’t usually cope with the effort of leaving the house midweek, but I was feeling brave and wanted to see him. Sometimes, he’s all that can calm me.

Okay. So I’ve got the razor out of the plastic case. Doesn’t mean I have to do it. I’ll just keep writing.

I had problems with Z this weekend. I’ve spoken briefly about Z before – she’s my best friend. We met online, through a body piercing forum, and she started a relationship with one of my friends, so we got to know each other. She has bipolar II (originally diagnosed as BPD), and although I love her, she’s a constant source of frustration to me. She’s very hyper and proactive, whereas I’m laid-back and happy to spend time alone. To cut a long story short, she wanted to meet S and I in Liverpool, but S had planned the trip and wanted to spend some time alone with me because he knew I was stressed. I had no idea how to get out of the situation, so I ended up turning my mobile off and ignoring her, which makes me a terrible person. I just can’t deal with friendship, how does everyone else manage it? It’s the hardest thing. We’ve spoken since, and I lied. I said my battery died. Which makes me even worse. Sometimes I think I’d be better off without friends at all, because I just can’t cope with the whole friendship thing. I never can.

I also did something which disappointed me, this weekend. I stole something. Well, I found it, but the right thing to do would have been to take it to the police station. I kept it, and now I’m wondering… am I starting to do that again? I used to steal all the time. I got banned from shops for doing it, and only avoided the law by being young and having a history of mental illness. I don’t know why I did it. There was no damn reason. I don’t even want it.

I don’t know. It’s a confusing time.

One little cut won’t do any harm.

Be careful what you wish for

S is taking me for a meal at my favourite pub this evening. We plan to get a bottle (or two) of red wine, sit near the open fire and talk rubbish all night. I briefly toyed with the idea of calling my old manager to see if he wanted to meet for a pint beforehand, but decided against it. I feel guilty, but I’m finding it hard to maintain the now internet-only friendship.

I’ve written briefly about P. He was the manager at the bookshop I worked in. He’s tall, gangly, geeky and ginger, with an addiction to coffee and amphetamines. At the age of 44, he still lived with his mother, was best friends with his cat and spent his life sorting books and getting drunk on Shiraz and Baileys. We hit it off straight away; our mutual love of Terry Pratchett and computer games pretty much sealing the deal. Now, let me state that I am a naturally flirty person; I can’t help it. I flirt with everyone but I’m totally unaware of it. So I don’t blame P for perhaps thinking I was interested in him. I made no obvious signs, but I did spend time chatting with him and going for pints, so I think he took my friendliness the wrong way. I was totally oblivious, but according to my co-workers, he’d been in love with me for months. Not just a crush, but totally in love with me.

I didn’t see it, at all. I suppose it never entered my head that he might have feelings for me; we were best friends, that’s all. I liked him, but not in that way.

When I got together with J, it all came out. He hardly spoke to me. We’d been very close friends for over a year, yet he just distanced himself totally. Still, we maintained a friendship of sorts. When I got with S, he went crazy. Deactivated his Facebook account, sent me flowers with a note attached saying I’d always have a piece of his heart, and disappeared off the face of the planet for months.

I was gutted. He’d been a really good friend, and I couldn’t help but think it childish to go on a strop just because I’ve met somebody. I never returned his feelings.

I miss him terribly, but it’s so awkward to know somebody has feelings for you which you don’t reciprocate. I’d love to be able to call P, tell him to meet me for a drink, and be able to share my happiness about my relationship with S… but I can’t.

I’ve never managed to have a real platonic relationship. Usually, the man has feelings for me; and I really don’t understand it. When I was younger, I used to wish men would fall in love with me.

Be careful what you wish for.

I blame you for the moonlit sky.

In hindsight, I don’t know why I was so stressed before. I came back home from a night out with S (more about that later) to re-read and publish the draft of my last post. There were so many spelling mistakes, so many words running into each other… I haven’t been so on edge for a long time. I confess; I’m still not taking the beta blockers properly. I try to, but I just get so muddled with all the medication I’m taking, that remembering to take them three times a day just slips my mind. I need to get a grip on that; I can’t afford to lose it again.

I’m glad I didn’t do anything about the urges to harm myself. I was so happy this evening, that knowing I had evidence of a freak out on my body would only have brought me down.

S got paid today, and he met me in town. I got the bus, for the first time in months; it seems a silly thing to be proud of, but I’ve been so uncomfortable with social situations lately that it feels like a huge achievement. I even made an effort; wore a maxi dress and boots, did my hair straight, took care with my makeup. I still felt itchy and exposed, but I’m beginning to accept that I’ll probably always feel that way. I’m no superwoman.

Bought some cigarettes, went to Boots and allowed myself a brief look at the makeup (I don’t like the mirrors, they make me nervous) and bought two nail varnishes, before waiting for S at the monument. It sounds childish, but I get so excited when we’re meeting, and when I saw him walking towards me in his nonchalant way, I had to stop myself running over to him. He looked gorgeous; even more so than usual. I still can’t quite believe he’s mine.

After a few drinks in the pub, we went for a curry. I’ve discovered lychee and banana curry, possibly the nicest (and strangest) thing I’ve ever tasted, and for once I didn’t give a damn about any diet or weight. I just enjoyed spending time with the man I love, in a nice restaurant, talking about the education system and my mum’s continued insistence that I have a drinking problem. Not for the first time, he said, “you need to get out of there”, which I know is true. I just wish it were that simple.

After the meal, we played pool in a deathly quiet pub, spurred on by Phil Collins, Nilsson and Jeff Buckley. The quiet pubs always have the best music (although S doesn’t share my adoration of Buckley… he’ll learn).

Finally, we walked to the lake, hand in hand. Lay on the grass together, his arm cushioning my head, and talked as we watched the stars. I asked him what he’d wish for if he had three wishes. He answered:

“For everyone to appreciate what they have, and not material objects like money or possessions, for wasps to be eradicated, and for people to look outside themselves and see the bigger picture, the things which really matter, to stop living their own secular lives and see the world around them”.

Mine were similar, except my first wish was that nowhere would ever serve watered-down Coke. Heck, that stuff’s important too.

He told me I’m beautiful. He wished on a shooting star; said the wish was about me. I told him how happy I am.

A Dilemma

  Let me start off by saying that, as shameful as it sounds, I don’t have many friends. Oh, I have acquaintances, I have people I can nod at and maybe chat to a little, but real friends, I can count on one hand. It’s been this way all my life; as a solitary person who likes her own space, I don’t tend to do the things which build friendships for my age group. I don’t go out drinking (I go to the pub, but that’s an entirely different social scene), I don’t drop everything to go to a party, I don’t work, I don’t study, and I left school at thirteen, leaving all friendships behind.

Regardless of this, I’ve always  been able to have at least one ‘friend’, someone I can spend time with, go shopping with, have coffee with. Of course, I also have my boyfriend, so I’m not alone.

Because I live at home with my mother, who can be quite strict and judgemental (without always meaning to be), I’m not afforded the same opportunities as others when it comes to socialising. She watches me like a hawk, and at the slightest hint of my fibromyalgia flaring up or my anxiety getting worse, she crowds around me and drops hints about how I should rest, take it easy, stay in bed, have some time to myself… and because I no longer wish to fall out with her over such trivial things, I usually go along with it. It’s easier than turning a simple request to go out into a balls-out argument with tears and shouting. I hate that, I can’t take it, so I just accept defeat and stay in my bedroom, watching the rest of the world carry on without me. Oh, I know I should be stronger and more assertive, but I simply don’t have the strength to be that way any more.

I’ve spoken before of my friend who has bipolar type 2. She’s a very full-on person, very in-your-face and demanding at times, but I love her to bits. She was there for me when I split up with J, she was the one person who knew the full story of what happened at that festival (including how he put his arm through a wall, when he was aiming for me). I’ve also been there for her.

Suddenly though, I can’t take it. It feels as though she’s demanding far too much of me, and I don’t know what to do. My mother suggests I should let the relationship between us fade away until she latches on to somebody else, but isn’t that cruel? My mother has a natural aversion to mental illness, I think her dream for me would be for me to become friends with somebody ‘normal’, but when you’re crazy, how do you meet normal people? And why would they put up with me? I make friends with the mentally ill because they’re like me, and because they understand in a way nobody else can.

In the past few weeks, she’s:

  • Turned up on my doorstep with no announcement, and insisted I go shopping with her. No problem there, apart from warning would be nice. I could’ve been having a bad day, after all.
  • Asked me to cut her hair, when I’ve already said no several times before. I gave up hairdressing due to the extreme pain it caused me, and she knows this.
  • Told me (today) that she’s bought a rabbit. Never mind that she’s in debt, she has nowhere to keep it. I used to work for an animal rescue, and to hear that she’s leaving it at her parent’s house, just like the kitten she ‘had’ to have then left for them to deal with, makes me feel uneasy. She hasn’t even neutered that cat, months after buying it (or rather, getting her boyfriend to buy it for her).
  • Asked to borrow money off me, when she has no way of paying it back.
  • Insisted I entertain her because she’s bored, on regular occasions.
  • Phoned me over and over, when she knows I’ve been ill, then waited for me to log into FB, and posting messages on my wall asking where I am.

I don’t know. I’m just ranting. It sounds so trivial written down, but when I’m trying to deal with fibro pain, anxiety, illness and just generally getting through the day, it mounts up into a big upset I can’t deal with. I feel like I can’t do anything without  her. I met S’s auntie and uncle two weeks ago in Manchester, and when I told her I was going, she seriously asked if she could come along. Well no, she said “take me”. It’s not the first time that’s happened, it’s quite regular that she’ll want to tag along. I have no problem with that at all, but sometimes it’s obvious (to me, at least) that certain situations are for me and me only. Meeting my boyfriend’s family is something for me to do. After all, I couldn’t expect his relatives to pay for her meal and drive her around, could I? I just would never ask to be included in that sort of situation, it’s manners.

I know I’m just offloading, and I’ll feel better about this tomorrow, but I do worry. If I let the friendship go because it’s causing me too much stress (which I can ill afford right now), I’m back to having no ‘real’ friends. Just S, and I can’t rely on him entirely, it’s not fair on him. I can’t meet potential friends, really, and keeping friendships is difficult when I can’t be relied on, when any day could mean I’m stuck in bed crying in pain, having to cancel plans and potentially having to stay away from pretty much everything for weeks on end. With the best will in the world, the average person doesn’t want to deal with someone so troubled, someone who can’t be relied on and who can go into deep depressions for no reason. I’m not like other people.

I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be battered down by demands either.

I don’t know what to do.

This always happens to me.

Day Three Falls at the First Hurdle

I was woken at 9am by a rhythmic thumping. At first, I thought it was the bin men making an ungodly racket, but it’s not bin pick-up day. It sounded like the world was ending; as though Tripods had finally hit Earth and were stomping around a usually quiet suburban street in Northern England. Eventually, I worked out it was a tree chopper across the road and not an alien invasion.

I drifted in and out of sleep, wishing for peace. I didn’t sleep well last night; four hours at best, and what sleep I did manage was broken and filled with bizarre dreams. Fibromyalgia hit me badly last night, and I ended up leaning on my V-shaped pillow, watching Lost and knitting to distract myself. By 3am, it was obvious that I was going to need some help with the aches in my shoulders and thighs, so I caved in and took two co-codamol tablets. Half an hour later, they were working but I was still wide awake so I took another two, just to send me to sleep. I was hoping not to get back into that habit, it’s one of my worst; but what can I do? I can’t take anti-imflammatories due to having IBS, I can’t have any more sleeping tablets because I get addicted, and opiates are the next best thing. I’ve done this twice recently, which I’m not happy about.

S and I were supposed to be going to a philosophy group tonight, but I have a horrible feeling I won’t make it. I’m so, so tired; exhausted even. The idea of getting in the shower, washing and drying my hair, getting dressed, applying makeup, travelling, then sitting in a pub… I just don’t know if I can face it. I’m feeling panicky and anxious for no real reason (and I’ve taken my meds, so that can’t be blamed), I’m feeling guilty over eating at lunchtime, my stomach hurts because of the effects of codeine, and I’m just so lethargic. I’m trying to push myself, because I really want to join in. The idea of a philosophy group appeals to me, and I know I’ll get a kick out of being one of the youngest there, and of course I want to see S. I just don’t know if I can force myself this time.

I don’t want to sit around feeling depressed because I backed out. I don’t want to be disappointed in myself because I, yet again, let people down. I especially don’t want to worry that S will soon tire of having a girlfriend with fibromyalgia. He’s so supportive of me, but no man is a superhero and it must be frustrating for him. I can think of a million reasons why I wouldn’t want to put up with me, so surely he will develop the same reasoning one day. I’ve become so attached to him;  and not just in the romantic sense. I genuinely enjoy the time we spend together, and losing him would be horrible. I don’t know why I’m thinking like this, it can’t be good for my anxiety.

I did manage to complete a few more rows of knitting, and I made a body scrub with olive oil, sea salt and fresh lavender:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t quite see me using it for some time, though. Even the idea of lifting my arms above my head or standing up for any length of time sounds like a nightmare right now. Positive, eh?